What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is a process which makes three-dimensional objects using successive layers of material which are laid down until the entire object is completed. Instead of using ink, the printer nozzles dispense layers of chosen material such as plastic, glass, ceramic or metal. Each layer can be seen as a thin horizontal cross-section of the final piece and are designed by a computer programme. Objects can be of almost any shape and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source, such as CAD software.
To begin with, a new design is made in a 3D modelling programme or an existing design is copied with a 3D scanner. The software programme splits the visualised item into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers so that the printer can create it piece by piece. The layers are then blended together so that the end result is a complete, three dimensional object.
Who uses 3D Printing?
Although the technology behind 3D printing has already been in use for a number of years, its uses and applications are only now coming to the attention of a wide variety of organisations and business sectors.
Applications for 3D printing include design visuals, manufacturing prototypes, metal casting, architectural planning, education models and medical components.
Already used for rapid manufacturing, 3D printing is more readily available for personal printing purposes due the rapid growth of printer technology in recent years.
ASL have now formed a strategic partnership to bring the largest manufacturers of 3D printing to the market.